The Chattanooga Red Wolves capped off the long three-game week with a win on Saturday by snapping the #3 Richmond Kickers six-game unbeaten streak with a late stoppage time goal. The dramatic 2-1 win at CHI Memorial Stadium against a fantastic Richmond side sealed an impressive 7 point week for the Red Wolves, who earned a point on the road against Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, followed by a 2-1 win against New England Revolution II on Wednesday, and another a 2-1 win today.
From the opening whistle, Chattanooga came out with their feet on the gas pushing for an early goal. They were able to hold possession and spend most of the first 10 minutes working the ball around their opponents half. However, after a mis-hit pass in the midfield, Richmond was able to collect the ball and counter attack, scoring on their first attempt on goal. The ball was pushed out to the wing and crossed into the box from the right side, to the lurking Argentinian forward, Emiiano Terzaghi of Richmond. The league leading scorer was able to redirect the ball past Alex Mangels, capitalizing on the Kickers first opportunity and giving them the early 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. However, the early goal did not shake Chattanooga, as they continued to work the ball around with patience in order to create opportunities. Team Captain, Josue Soto, had a standout performance at defensive mid, remaining cool and collected on the ball and moving it left to right resulting in an extremely dangerous 50/50 ball being played into the box, where Ronaldo Pineda was able to beat the keeper to the ball. He took a touch past him and rattled off a curling shot from near the baseline, which hit the post and bounced around the box creating chaos before the defense was finally able to clear it. The first half came to a close with minimal scoring opportunities from both sides, but with an unfortunate scoreline of 1-0 in Richmond's favor.
Patrick Okonkwo, the recent Chattanooga signee from Atlanta United, subbed on at the start of the second half for his much anticipated Red Wolves debut and he immediately showcased his ability to hold up the ball, lay it off, and distribute it wide. The second half continued on as the majority of the first half had, with Chattanooga working the ball around on Richmonds half with patience, awaiting their opportunity to put one in. Marky Hernandez subbed on in the 53rd minute, after sitting a week out due to injury, but played as if he had never left, making an immediate impact on the game picking up an assist within 60 seconds of subbing on. Conor Doyle laid off the ball to Marky who then found Tanner Dieterich in the box, who was able to hammer it home and bring the scoreline even at 1-1 in the 54th minute. As the game began to get physical and chippy, Chattanooga kept focused pushing forward for another goal.
As time ran out, the 4th official added three minutes of stoppage time and with two of those gone, the ball went out for a throw in on Richmonds half. A quick throw in to Marky Hernandez that caught Richmond sleeping left him with only one player to beat. Marky glided past the defender and slipped the ball across the box finding the feet of Steven Beattie who buried it home with less than a minute to go to bring the game to 2-1 in Chattanooga's favor. The final whistle blew shortly after the restart, and the last minute stoppage time goal lifted #4 Chattanooga to a win over the #3 Richmond Kickers.
Chattanooga are now unbeaten in their last four games, picking up three wins and a draw and moving them up in the standings to third place in the league. After the game Coach Obleda praised his team's resilience and noted the spectacular effort from the substitutes, who combined accounted for both assists and the game winning goal. After the match he spoke to reporters about his team, saying, “This group has really grown and matured. We knew that we had this game and we knew the way we had been playing. They had no doubt that this win was gonna happen. We are going to keep going and we are not stopping.” When asked to comment on the spectacular performance of Marky Hernandez, who subbed on in the 53rd minute and assisted both goals to win the game, Coach Obleda said, “I told Marky you are gonna play 40 minutes and I need you to come and do what you do. He came in and he lights the world on fire.” Tanner Dieterich was also thrilled with the win, saying that scoring his first professional goal for Chattanooga, in the state of Tennessee where he grew up playing, meant alot to him.
Steven Beattie expanded on his coach and teammates' excitement, explaining how much scoring that game-winning goal in the dying moments meant to him and how he is excited for what's in store for the team.
Richmond had not dropped a game in their last 6 matches, and taking down the #3 ranked team and snapping this streak was a huge accomplishment for Chattanooga, but they will not be satisfied with it. The Red Wolves have made it known that they want to finish in the top two spots, and they are nearing that goal. However, they will have to keep taking care of business going forward. The Red Wolves have a huge opportunity this upcoming week to reach these goals, as they are scheduled to play the undefeated #2 Union Omaha on Tuesday, followed by the league leaders, Greenville Triumph on Saturday. Both of these crucial matches will be played at CHI Memorial Stadium. Tune in to ESPN+ to watch the #3 Chattanooga Red Wolves take on #2 Union Omaha on Tuesday, at 12:00 PM.